Panel Suggests Brown U. Atone for Ties to Slavery
By PAM BELLUCK. New York Times
Published: October 19, 2006
BOSTON, Oct. 18 — Extensively documenting Brown University’s 18th-century ties to slavery, a university committee called Wednesday for the institution to make amends by building a memorial, creating a center for the study of slavery and injustice and increasing efforts to recruit minority students, particularly from Africa and the West Indies.
The Committee on Slavery and Justice, appointed three years ago by Brown’s president, Ruth J. Simmons, a great-granddaughter of slaves who is the first black president of an Ivy League institution, said in a report: “We cannot change the past. But an institution can hold itself accountable for the past, accepting its burdens and responsibilities along with its benefits and privileges.”
Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children may be a very slippery slope. Every generation is a product of the previous, and times and norms change. Views, practices, laws and conventions change with the times, as is obvious from this nineteenth century cartoon. No one can undo the past and to speculate about about what happened yesterday is as pointless as what happened two hundred years ago, or ten thousand years ago. The speculation is only meaningful in helping you decide upon plans for the future. Almost all politics is dependent upon past laws, practices and traditions. It is evolutionary and at times revolutionary. The changes have consequences.
Will this type of decision by Brown be part of a trend? Will it lead from an apology to reparations? Will that lead to legislation and the taking away property (money) from one party and awarding it to another for sins not suffered or committed by either?